north florida - wild florida - steinhatchee

By: marsHen , 11:08 AM GMT on November 20, 2012

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05:30, 60F, overcast. no stars. roosters sleeping. yellow dogs at back door. let pup out with guard dog. dark and quiet.
07:40, 59F, a mist. meet crew in cow town, head north to steinhatchee to trawl the seagrass meadows in an ongoing study of young-of-the-year (YOY) gag grouper, hogfish, black sea bass and several snapper species.
09:00, high tide falling at jenna boat ramp. 58F, NE wind, 5 knts., a light chop. we caught a few sea bass for the study. none of the other target fish were caught. the entire catch is identified, measured, and returned to the water. catches were low with a few notable critters - a scorpion fish, a few emerald parrotfish, and 2 large flounder. water temperature, 17C, 62F, chilly. we also pulled in a "ton" of sea urchins in at least half the trawls. urchins eat shellfish. no scallops came up in any of the trawls, just empty shells. this was the last trip of the year for steinhatchee. the seagrass meadows are turning brown and since cover is sparse, and temps are low, many fish are heading into deeper water. we still have the econfina trawls to finish up but that will be it for the big bend YOY studies until next may when the waters warm up and the seagrass sprouts out green and grows sometimes up to a meter in length.
several flocks of ducks flew over or around us. two loons diving. brown pelicans and cormorants and herring gulls. and far away to the north, a large flock of big white birds scattered across a shallow, sandy area - either egrets, or white pelicans.
14:10, 62F, wind switched to west at 10-15 knts. choppy and chilly. last trawl netted a large pregnant male sea horse - 135mm (5.5") from top of head to tip of tail - measured, identified, Hippocampus erectus, and dropped back into the seagrass.
packed up trawl and headed back. a very salty pleasant day.
17:30, mid-60's, mostly cloudy. pastel sunset colors muted. got 1 egg. got 3 eggs yesterday! bruiser didn't eat his dinner. dixie ate his dinner. he's looking puny, sitting in a clump of cabbage palms. need to get the traveling vet over to give everyone their shots and check out some of these old dogs.
19:00, 61F, mostly cloudy with the waxing half moon glimmering on and off thorough the mackerel skies. west wind up there. a few stars.

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About marsHen

marine biologist around the Suwannee River delta. Raise Cracker sheep on an old Cracker farm ~ 12 mi. (as the crow flies) from the Gulf.